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Evolution. 2015 Sep;69(9):2452-67. doi: 10.1111/evo.12748. Epub 2015 Aug 26.

Origins of female genital diversity: Predation risk and lock-and-key explain rapid divergence during an adaptive radiation.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences and W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27695.
2
Department of Biological Sciences and W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27695. langerhans@ncsu.edu.

Abstract

The study of male genital diversity has long overshadowed evolutionary inquiry of female genitalia, despite its nontrivial diversity. Here, we identify four nonmutually exclusive mechanisms that could lead to genital divergence in females, and potentially generate patterns of correlated male-female genital evolution: (1) ecological variation alters the context of sexual selection ("ecology hypothesis"), (2) sexually antagonistic selection ("sexual-conflict hypothesis"), (3) female preferences for male genitalia mediated by female genital traits ("female-choice hypothesis"), and (4) selection against inter-population mating ("lock-and-key hypothesis"). We performed an empirical investigation of all four hypotheses using the model system of Bahamas mosquitofish inhabiting blue holes that vary in predation risk. We found unequivocal support for the ecology hypothesis, with females exhibiting a smaller genital opening in blue holes containing piscivorous fish. This is consistent with stronger postmating female choice/conflict when predators are present, but greater premating female choice in their absence. Our results additionally supported the lock-and-key hypothesis, uncovering a pattern of reproductive character displacement for genital shape. We found no support for the sexual conflict or female choice hypotheses. Our results demonstrate a strong role for ecology in generating female genital diversity, and suggest that lock-and-key may provide a viable cause of female genital diversification.

KEYWORDS:

Coevolution; cryptic female choice; genital evolution; reproductive character displacement; sexual conflict; sexual selection

PMID:
26259062
DOI:
10.1111/evo.12748
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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